Obama, Israel, and the Politics of Narcissism

President Obama’s much publicized speech (May 19, 2011) to the Arab world created a new dimension in presidential character -- the passive narcissist.  Seldom, if ever, has any president been so infatuated with his own words at the expense of reality

With the American dollar on a downward spiral, the president now promises billions of dollars to the so called “Arab democracy movement.” Calling something a “democracy movement” doesn’t make it so. Straining the financial resources of the nation for the chimera of democracy does not enhance our national security.

In Libya, the democracy movement is run by Gitmo alumni tied to a region known for sending volunteers to fight American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Egypt, the democracy movement seems to be the spearhead for the ascending Muslim Brotherhood. “We are all Egyptians,” Nicholas Kristof tells us in the pages of the New York Times, foreshadowing the tone of Obama’s speech. But ask the Coptic Christians if the Salafi-led attacks on them make them feel like Egyptians.

In Bahrain and Yemen, the street protests are heavily infiltrated by Iranian interests in the furtherance of Iran’s hegemonic view of a Shi’ia crescent. If Iranian vassals come to power, it will not advance American interests in those countries. Bahrain under an Iranian-influenced government is not going to permit the headquartering of the Fifth Fleet, as does the current regime. Yemen will not be a refueling port for the American Navy.

The Democrats have posed the question: When have you ever seen the opposition party align itself with a foreign leader, Benjamin Netanhyau, against a sitting American president? The answer is, perhaps, founded in a corollary question. When have you ever seen the president of the United States run headlong to embrace a movement that is antithetical to our strategic interests and looks strikingly like a replay of Iranian fundamentalists running amuck in the streets of Tehran demonstrating against the shah?

The Arab Spring is a lie. It is a lie promulgated by a wishful media, a naive and puerile president, and a gaggle of academics incapable of thinking beyond two categories: dictators and democrats. But there is a third category that hangs over Obama’s characterization of events, which is conspicuous by its absence in his speech -- the theocratic ascendance, the Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Shi’ia theocrats in the Persian Gulf.

Obama is our first Muslim president, in the same sense that Bill Clinton was our first black president. Obama needs to be out front in terms of what he naively sees as the Arab democratic revolution. He also wants to be the American president who created the Palestinian state. His narcissism drives his rhetoric. Obama wants to be the godfather of the Arab Spring and the midwife of the Palestinian birth.

I can think of no other reason than narcissism for Obama’s clumsy attempts to bring about a Palestinian state by publicly getting out in front of the Palestinians on important issues that should be decided through negotiations. Obama, not Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, made the construction freeze in Jerusalem a precondition for negotiations. Even Yasser Arafat negotiated while neighborhoods were constructed in Jerusalem, neighborhoods the Palestinians never thought of claiming until Obama paved the way. Similarly, rolling Israel back to the pre-1967 “borders,” which are, in fact, military armistice lines, would be difficult to reconstruct 63 years later and constrain the negotiations because Abbas cannot afford to be less demanding of the Israelis than is the American president.